Fans & Followers as Social Collateral

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When Houston Piano Company came up with the idea of a month-long promotion that would benefit local nonprofits, it wasn’t a surprise that Steve and Sue Merrill picked animal protection agencies as their beneficiaries.  Anyone who has visited this landmark showroom/concert hall/recording studio/music school in The Heights, has made friends with Roland, Balduin and Dolly, the ebony and ivory standard poodles who call the place home.  However, with over 20, extremely worthy animal protection agencies in Houston to choose from, how did they decide which ones to pick?  Answer: by looking at their social collateral.

This information is available to anyone.  Just by logging onto its Facebook page, you can see that the Houston SPCA has over 15,000 Fans who have “Liked” its website.  By going to CAP’s website and clicking on the big T, you don’t even have to know how to “tweet” to learn that Citizens for Animal Protection has 516 people who currently follow it on Twitter.  Wildlife Rehab & Education has over 2,500 Fans and Followers, combined.  Granted, there are overlaps between these organizations and between the two media; but the raw numbers for the three agencies altogether come to 23,591 people on Facebook, and 1,787 on Twitter.  By linking with their websites, Houston Piano Co. has the potential of reaching over 25,000 new individuals in its market area.

That is how Licks for Likes was born. Starting on October 1 and running throughout the month, Houston Piano Co. (HPC) has pledged to match the number of “Likes” it receives on its Facebook fan page in total dollars to be split among the three animal charities.  You can also “vote” for which one is your favorite.  All three agencies are concurrently running the campaign on their websites as well, linking back to HPC, and you can follow the promotion’s progress all month long on Twitter at @LicksForLikes.

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So – What is the current value of your “social collateral”?

What can you do to drive up the number of your Fans and Followers to make your organization more attractive to potential partners?  Are there for-profit companies that would (1) want to connect with people who are sympathetic to your cause, and (2) benefit from being associated with your charity?  Keep in mind that today’s consumers are looking closely at the companies they do business with, and many prefer to trade with those that exhibit a social conscience.

If you have been putting off adding links to Facebook and Twitter on your nonprofit’s website, take some time to evaluate the potential partnerships that these tools might open up for your organization, both in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.  One final example in the animal realm is Houston PetSet, a nonprofit organized solely to host “animal-friendly” functions and raise money in support of Houston’s many animal welfare nonprofits, many of which are not as well-known as the 3 above.  In fact, one recent recipient of a PetSet grant was Crime Stoppers of Houston!  Acknowledging the correlation between animal cruelty and other criminal behavior, these nonprofits have joined together to not only protect defenseless animals, but to make Houston a safer place for us all.

There are 17,000 nonprofits in Houston alone – what unlikely relationships can you imagine? [Editor’s Note: As of November 2018, there are 23,000 nonprofits in Houston.]

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Richard Beeman